Congregations are finding that hierarchical organizational structures limit their ability to think and act creatively. Good ideas don’t get implemented in a reasonable timespan. Often, the people needed to move ideas forward function outside the organizational boundaries. Hayim Herring and Terri Martinson Elton propose a different conceptual framework for connecting purpose, people and activities. The model is based on understanding social networks. Herring is a rabbi, consultant, and articulate thought leader. Elton is the Associate Professor of Leadership at Luther Seminary with extensive pastoral, teaching, and leadership experience. The authors do not suggest that hierarchies are all bad. Congregations need order and tradition to flourish. The authors don’t suggest that simply learning about social networks will create a more agile congregation. What they do propose is that consideration of organizational structure and the use of social networks is a way to increase the impact of congregations (and nonprofits); particularly when scarce resources need to be used wisely. Chapter six on organizational foresight is particularly valuable. How does a congregation look beyond today’s horizon? The practical ideas and tools provided in this chapter will be helpful to congregational boards. If congregational leaders are looking for a book to study together, this would be an excellent choice.
Reviewed by Tim Shapiro